BY NICO VREELAND

[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]



Otherwise Known As the Human Condition
, by Geoff Dyer, reviewed by Stephen Burn (New York Times)

I wouldn’t say I dislike massive essay collections on principle, but I do know that I probably won’t get around to reading this book (composed of more than 50 essays and reviews). Burn’s review addresses the inherent risks of assembling such a collection, tells me why I should quit whining and read it anyway, and also features one of the best opening paragraphs I’ve read in months. [Get Otherwise Known As the Human Condition at Powell’s.]


Siberian Education, by Nicolai Lilin, reviewed by Joshua Yaffa (Wall Street Journal)

File this one under memoirs not about mommy issues. Nicolai Lilin “was born into a tightly knit society of Siberian bandits”—that’ll turn a page or two. There’s more than a little evidence that Lilin inexplicably James Freyed his bio, exaggerating if not fabricating certain details (“inexplicably” because being born into a society of Siberian bandits seems like enough). Still, it’s intriguing. [Get Siberian Education at Powell’s.]


The Trinity Six, by Charles Cumming, reviewed by Kristin Thiel (Oregonian)

The Trinity Six came out more than a month ago, but I’m still seeing new reviews for it, which is a great sign for a mystery/spyish thriller. Another great sign: those reviews are nearly universally positive. This review isn’t much to look at on its own, but if you haven’t considered reading The Trinity Six, perhaps it’ll convince you. [Get The Trinity Six at Powell’s.]


Started Early, Took My Dog, by Kate Atkinson, reviewed by Alison McCulloch (New York Times)

I’m always on the lookout for “unorthodox” mysteries, because orthodox ones bore me to tears. “Unorthodox” has been the descriptor most often applied to Atkinson’s mystery series, but after reading this review, I still don’t know exactly what is so odd about it, except possibly the fact that it will require more than a little readerly effort to digest. Which would truthfully be pretty unorthodox. [Get Started Early, Took My Dog at Powell’s.]


In brief: My favorite of the many Pale King reviews that came out this weekend. … A book stretched out from a good essay doesn’t impress, despite the fact that it was written by a fictional mutant. (What? Different Professor X? I smell lawsuit.) … I’ve never cottoned to Henning Mankell, but this review of his latest, last Wallender novel positively slobbers over him. … This is a movie review, but it’s in the NYRB and it’s by Zadie Smith. Two out of three ain’t bad.

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